You may love or hate MIUI, but since Xiaomi is among the biggest phone manufacturers out there, a lot of people come into touch with its software. It has come a long way compared to 2018 when we went hands-on with it, and the company continues improving MIUI with each new version. After a leak revealed our first glimpse at the latest iteration of the skin, it comes to no surprise that Xiaomi has now officially launched MIUI 12 during an event in China, where it has also unveiled the Mi 10 Lite Zoom Edition.
Left: Home screen with navigation bar. Middle: Quick settings tiles. Right: Wi-Fi settings.
After MIUI 11 already introduced new fonts and system sounds to Xiaomi phones, the latest version goes a step further with a broadly redesigned, more flat UI and improved (albeit still playful) animations. The company claims the skin is extremely smooth thanks to its custom rendering engines, and it uses a collection of animated planetary imagery as "super wallpapers" to show that off. There's also support for Android 10-like navigation gestures.
Flare will show you which permissions an app uses.
To improve privacy, Xiaomi has thrown together a suite of three new features: Flare, Barbed Wire, and Mask System. Flare will show up in the form of icons marking which sensitive permissions the currently active app uses. Barbed Wire allows you to "erase sensitive information when sharing documents," but it's not clear what that means. Mask System lets you feed selected apps with dummy information in case they want access to permissions such as your contacts, calendars, or call records. Xiaomi even obtained an "Enhanced Privacy Protection for Android Systems" certificate from Germany-based TÜV Rheinland, saying its OS is the first to receive it.
Left: Call Assistant. Middle: Hearing aids support. Right: Mi Health.
Other novelties include free-floating multitasking windows, an AI call assistant, a Mi Health app, a new control center, Dark Mode 2.0, and what looks like hearing aids compatibility. As seen on Weibo (via GSMArena), MIUI 12 will roll out to existing devices in batches, starting with flagships like the Mi 10, Mi 9, and all of the Redmi K30 and K20 variants in June. More phones will follow later. In contrast to other skins, MIUI versions are independent of Android versions, which is why the company can release the update for phones that already run Android 10, too.
Note that this is the announcement for the Chinese version of the OS, so some features might not find their way into the international release.
Xiaomi has also announced the Mi 10 Lite Zoom Edition at the same event. The phone has a 6.75-inch 20:9 2400x1080 screen and comes with the Snapdragon 765 with 5G support, 6 or 8GB of RAM, 64 to 256GB of storage, and a 4,160mAh battery. Its name-giving periscope lens offers up to 5x optical zoom. There's also a 48MP main camera, a 120° wide-angle, and a 2MP macro letting you work with focal lengths between 15 and 122mm. The phone starts at RMB2099 (~$300) and will be sold in China.